On this date in 1985, James Todd Smith better known as LL Cool J, dropped his first full length LP on Def Jam Records. Primarily produced by Rick Rubin besides “I Need A Beat”, which was produced by DJ Jazzy Jay, Radio was a pivotal LP for not only LL and Def Jam, but for an evolving Hip Hop landscape that had just seen the rapid decline of b-boying and jams in the park. This was also the era in which the crack epidemic hit the streets and all of the major players used LL Cool J as the prototype image of how a hustler is supposed to look.
Songs like “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” and “Rock The Bells” dominated airwaves as well as influenced other artists of that time period with his braggadocios content and virtually forceful delivery. The song that actually got Cool J the deal with Def Jam, “I Need A Beat”, was written and recorded when LL was only 15 years old, making him not only Def Jam’s first solo artist, but also their youngest.
Salute to Cool J, Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons, Jazzy Jay and everyone at Def Jam from that era that help put together this timeless classic!
On this day in 1992, gangsta rapper turned actor/filmmaker Ice Cube released his most successful solo album The Predator. Released months after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, this album follows the same tone that existed in Ice Cube’s music from his solo beginning; Black power against any form of oppression. Although the album was very graphic, it still had great reception among the commercial audience, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart (despite his blatant diss of the Billboard editor on the album’s title track) and selling 193,000 copies in its first week.
The mood of this album was set by the era of violence that was going on in Los Angeles, California. Every song has an element of the type of violence that was going on in the hood between and against Black people incorporated through interludes or references. Even his more peaceful tracks have an air of criminal paranoia about them. Regardless, The Predator is still slightly toned down from his prior two releases AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate, which you can by the titles more outwardly push the militant mindset that Ice Cube has as a recording artist.
This album also toted two #1 rap singles, “It Was a Good Day” and “Check Yo Self”. “It Was a Good Day” is to date Ice Cube’s most successful single. The track peaked #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1993 and sold 600,000 copies. Outside of commercial success, this album is forever a part of pop culture history voted #8 on VH1‘s Top Rap Songs list. “Check Yo Self” was also ridiculously successful, selling 500,000 copies and peaking at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Predator LP is a masterpiece and has the sales to prove it. This album has so far gone double platinum and with the success of the film Straight Outta Compton there is no reason why sales figures should not increase over the next few months. As anyone up-to-date in Hip Hop culture should know, with the success of this album, Ice Cube went on to be an entertainment mogul directing, writing, and producing successful films, appearing on television, and releasing six more studio LPs that have all done pretty well in their sales all appearing on the Billboard 200 in the top 20%.
On this day in 1999, legendary super-producer Dr. Dre put out Chronic 2001, his last album before a 16 year hiatus. Containing some of the most known tracks in rap, Chronic 2001 has been extremely successful over the years. As of July 2013 the album has been certified septuple platinum, selling 7,664,000 copies in the United States alone and with the recent success of the film Straight Outta Compton, one can only imagine the increase in its sales that is to come. Dr. Dre is an artist known for the breaks he takes between albums. Chronic 2001, the follow up to The Chronic, came seven years after its predecessor and although it may have been an excruciating period of time to wait, each project he’s delivered has been more than worth the time spent wondering what it would consist of.
The quality of work that makes up Chronic 2001 is epic. Of course, the production of this album is more solid than most coming from Dre himself along with Mel-Man and Lord Finesse, but he vocal features that were at Dre’s disposal due to his success at the time also helped to make this project such a classic. Rappers such as The D.O.C., Hittman, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Xzibit, Nate Dogg and Eminem made appearances on this album. It would be an understatement to say that this project was an influential part of west coast rap and culture.
As previously stated, this album was widely regarded and critically acclaimed. It debuted in 1999 at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart where it peaked and sold 516,000 copies in its first week. The album also claimed the #1 spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, #4 on the UK Album Chart, and #17 in the Dutch Albums Chart. As far as its legacy, the album has made its appearances on music charts worldwide since its release and is #17 on the Billboard 200 chart for the 2000s. Its hit single “Still D.R.E.”, is certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA and is a household name in the Hip Hop world.
Dr. Dre’s successes following this album are enough to make a second movie about. His influence on rap and rap culture span a generation and his place in pop culture as a whole has been cemented due to what he has accomplished. We can only sit back and watch what the mastermind that is Dr. Dre has in store for us in the coming years.
On this date in 2004, MF DOOM dropped his fifth full length studio release MM..FOOD. Put out on the underground Rhymesayers Entertainment label, some songs from the project were previously released under the name Madvillian on another label. The album featured classic samples from several superhero cartoons including the Fantastic Four, Spiderman and Superman.
The album featured production mainly from DOOM himself, with Count Bass D and Madlib on the help out on just two tracks on the 15 track project. Some of the standout tracks include “Hoe Cakes”, “Guinnesses”, which featured Tennessee born/ATL bred femcee Empress StaHHr and 4ize and the kaleidoscopic “Fig Leaf Bi-Carbonate”.
Salute to DOOM and everyone involved with this timeless album!
On this day in Hip Hop history, Method Man released his debut solo LP Tical. Sticking to RZA’s plan on industry domination, Method was the first to roll out his solo LP after the ridiculous success group debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). In the early years of the Wu, Method Man had grown become the public face of the group. His larger than life persona and multitude of styles won over the hearts and ears of fans after the groups first single “Protect Ya Neck” had “Method Man” on it’s B-side.
Tical delves deeper into the sinister villainous style previewed on 36 Chambers. Method Man creates a dark anti-hero on this album who hungers for the career of wack rappers and perpetrators. It was truly a violent introduction to one of the most outrageous members of the Wu, second only to ODB in theatrical personality.
Considered a “two-man show” by critics, the album was almost entirely produced by RZA. As the Wu’s architect, RZA created specific sounds for each member. Method unique sonic was the most film inspired. Meth continued to build a character likened to the many crime bosses and master villains that starred in his beloved Kung-Fu flicks. Aside from the image, lyrically the album is on another level. Method Man flawlessly juggles synonyms and metaphors with a flow that weaves in and out of the beat to create a hardcore symphony of Shaolin style.
Commercially, the album was a hit and only added on to the cipher of success revolving around the Wu-Tang Clan. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop chart selling a million copies within a year of it’s release. It kick started a wave of successful solo albums and keep afloat RZA’s five-year plan to becoming the greatest rap group in history.
On this date in 1986, Adam Horowitz(Ad Rock), Adam Yauch(MCA) and Michael Diamond(Mike D) aka The Beastie Boys, dropped their sophomore LP Licensed To Ill on the Def Jam Imprint under Columbia Records.
On the heels of the success LL Cool J’s Radio album and the cut classic flick Krush Groove, Def Jam head honcho Russell Simmons decided to head in the most unconventional direction with the quasi-punk rock/Hip Hop trio for Def Jam’s follow up to those monumental releases. The original title of this release was Don’t Be A Faggot, but Columbia Records pushed Simmons to change the homophobic title.
Rated as one of The Source Magazine‘s Top 100 Best Albums, Licensed To Ill received the coveted five-mic status, a precedent for Jewish Hip Hop artists. In less than six months after its release, this critically acclaimed project earned the Beastie Boys a platinum plaque, lead by the singles “Brass Monkey”, “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”, Hold It Now, Hit It” and the storytelling smash “Paul Revere”.
Unfortunately, crew member MCA lost his battle with cancer in 2012, which actually caused a resurgence in the album’s popularity and sales.
Salute to Def Jam, Russell Simmons, Ad Rock, Mike D and the continued legacy of MCA for creating such a timeless Hip Hop classic!
On this day in Hip Hop history Brooklyn’s own Jay-Z released he would-be retirement album The Black Album. Although there was virtually no pause between The Black Album and new Jay-Z music (collaboration albums with both R. Kelly and Linkin Park were released the following year), this album is easily the greatest retirement project of all time.
In it’s entirety, this album sounds more like a greatest hits album than the eighth project of an illustrious career. Starting with the first track, “December 4th”, this album takes the listener on a nostalgic journey. This opening tale of Hov’s origin sets the tone of the album and properly introduces Jay to an industry that he feels has taken him for granted. This album is an opus to Jay’s distaste with the rap game a whole. On numerous tracks, specifically “Encore” and “What More Can I Say”, Hov can be heard stating his frustration with being the one punch man (a fictional super hero who can defeat any opponent with merely one punch causing him to become bored with super hero work) of Hip Hop.
Aside from staking his claim as the greatest, Hov spent this album perfectly juggling his unique brand of bragging with the dropping of street knowledge you couldn’t pay for. Singles “Change Clothes” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” are perfect examples of the particular swagger Jay-Z brought to rap. His mature yet flamboyant lyricism is on par with the life described by Robin Leach. As the album progresses, Jay begins more and more to put his would-be competition in its place with sheer will power. From “Threats” to “Lucifer” it seems Jay is directly challenging the rest of the rap world to get on his level before the never again get the chance.
The album ends with two songs that could interchangeably be used as an outro. Both “Allure” and “My 1st Song” show Jay-Z coming to terms with the final chapter of his career coming to a close, even if he was planning a comeback.
Featuring production from Kanye West, Just Blaze, The Neptunes, Timbaland, 9th Wonder, Rick Rubin, DJ Quik, and even Eminem, its easy to see why this album is as amazing as it is. Aside from the prolific production team, Jay-Z put together one of his most successful albums without any features (aside a hook sung by Pharrell) . Commercially, the album peaked at #1 on both the Top R&B/Hip Hop chart and the Billboard 200 chart (where it appeared twice, each for a week). The album also went triple platinum in the United States and made appearances on music charts of eight different countries.
On this day at the turn of the century, Prodigy, the lyrical half of the legendary QB duo Mobb Deep, dropped his debut LP, ‘H.N.I.C.’, released under the Loud/Violator/Steve Rifkind Co./Infamous Records imprints.
Produced by behind the boards experts like his partner Havoc, The Alchemist, Rockwilder, and Just Blaze, this album became the first part the P’s H.N.I.C.(Head Nigga In Charge) trilogy. It also inspired other similar album titles in the 21st century from premiere artists such as Kendrick Lamar(Y.H.N.I.C.) and Wiz Khalifa(O.H.N.I.C.).
Prodigy showed off his versatility on this project, which included love songs(“Trials Of Love”), renewed history tracks(“Infamous Minded”), crew love tracks(“Can’t Complain”, “Dealt With The Bullshit”) and of course, the album-leading, no chorus having “Keep It Thoro”.
Salute to Prodigy in his physical absence, however, his music will forever be etched in Hip Hop History!
The last time Drake visited Jason of Beverley Hills, he left with a life-sized owl pendant. Keep in mind this pendant came equipped with more than a kilo of gold, more than 100 carats of Asscher cut diamonds.
Astonishingly, it is larger than Jason’s hand. Without a doubt, Drizzy must’ve dropped a big bag on his gleaming owl. However, there’s never a shortage of funds when you embark on a three month, 54-show tour across the U.S. and Canada with Hip Hop’s leading trio.
In fact, Aubrey and the Three Migos are still running up checks considering five shows remain on the schedule. Still, Drizzy found time to call Jason and have him create a few new gleaming pieces. When you can afford it, and your friends are actively contributing to securing a bag, its only right you pay them respect in diamonds (ice, ice, ice, ice, ice, ice).
Therefore, Drizzy split the bag to drop more than a few bands on a few diamond gifts for the Migos. We spoke exclusively with Jason the jeweler, CEO of Jason of BH. He provided us with some intimate details on the gifts.
Asking a few curious questions, we learned that each chain is equipped with 1,196 Round and Asscher shape diamonds, approximately 20 carats apiece. It’s important to note these are all flawless diamonds.
The pavè and prong settings ensure every diamond will dance across the 19′ chain like the late Mike Jack for years to come.
Offset is already flaunting his gift on his Instagram stories. We wish we had generous friends like Drizzy.
On this day Hip Hop history we celebrate the birth of one of the culture brightest stars, the late, great Russell Jones, affectionately known to the Hip Hop world as Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
To Hip Hop, Dirt Dog was more than a rapper. His personality and ostentatious demeanor were representative of the soul of Hip Hop. He did not let the fame and status take away from his character. Those who knew him said that he remained true to himself throughout his career making him quite the public figure. According to some, Ol’ Dirty was the type to help an old woman cross the street then, once he got to the other side, run a bystander for his jewels. He was a noble man with a righteous cause for sinning. His legacy is one that will not fade anytime soon.
In honor of his 50th degree day, we have put together a list of some of Big Baby Jesus’ most outrageous and memorable moments and these aren’t the only ones to chose from.
Performing as a Fugitive of Justice
In the fall of 2000, ODB was facing two charges for drug possession and had two separate warrants out for his arrest. This didn’t case The Specialist to lose any sleep. He in fact took the stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York performing exactly one verse before having to flee the scene. He even gave his fans a warning before gracing the mic saying, “I can’t stay on the stage too long tonight—the cops is after me.”
Taking a Limo to Pick Up Food Stamps
Who wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to pick up a government assistance check in style, not ODB. In an MTV News interview, OL’ Dirty takes MTV and the viewers at home on a unique ride down to the welfare office in a fully-loaded stretch limo. If that wasn’t good enough, ODB’s response when asked why he is so blatantly making a mockery of the welfare system he responds, “[They] owe me 40 acres and a mule anyway.” Touche, Dirt Dog, touche.
Interrupting a Grammy Acceptance Speech
In 1998, way before Kanye embarrassed Taylor Swift on the VMA stage, ODB took to the stage to voice his opinion on Wu-Tang losing Best Rap Album to Puff Daddy & The Family‘s No Way Out. Unfortunately for some, OBD didn’t make it on stage until Shawn Colvin was on stage making his acceptance speech for winning Song of the Year, much after the after Diddy was awarded his Grammy. In a few short moments ODB expressed his frustration by saying,
“I went and bought me an outfit today that costed me a lot of money today because I figured Wu-Tang was going to win. I don’t know how y’all see it, but when to comes it to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children. We teach the children. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best. I want you to know that this is ODB, and I love you all.”
Giving an Interview for the Children with No Shoes on Outside
In one of his best interviews, ODB goes on a rant about being only for the children on the streets of Brooklyn, while barefoot. At first glance it may seem strange, but if you think about it, the prophets of old were more than likely shoe-less. Trying to picture Jesus speaking to his disciples in a pair of crisp white Air Force Ones just isn’t right, maybe Big Baby was on to something.